Monday, 5 October 2009

Nuit Blanche

Toronto's Nuit Blanche, the "all night contemporary art thing", is an offshoot of the European all night art festivals of the same name, whose exact origins are disputed. They began in 1997 in either Paris, St Petersburg or Berlin, and have since spread around the world, arriving at Toronto in 2006.

Me and a group of friends went to Toronto's fourth annual Nuit Blanche yesterday. I missed nearly all of Bea and Belén's pre-festival party because of the Anishinaabe Fall Ceremonies, which was a shame.

I planned to write a proper post about the event, but it's getting longer and longer overdue, so I've decided to just post some pictures of the art instead:

This is a giant silver rabbit shaped helium balloon. I'm not sure what it's called, who it's by or what it represents (it's the same with most of the art shown from here onwards unfortunately), but it was striking. It was also bloody hard to take a good picture of because of it's size. Luckily Windows Live Photo Gallery is good at stitching separate photos together.

This is the "4 Letter Word Machine". Based on the name, I'm sure you can figure out what it does without an in-depth description on my part. Throughout the course of the evening, I saw it say numerous words. Some got better reactions than others, some had people cheering, some were phrases and had people chanting along, but the most notable for me was "fart".

This was the weirdest piece of "art" I saw. It was a 39 man last man standing wrestling match, and as if that isn't weird enough, it was exhibited in a bus station. On one side of the building the cross-country bus service was operating as normal, and on the other, 39 sweaty latex clad men were interacting with each other in a very homo erotic fashion.

After watching the wrestlers prance about for a while, we walked South and saw a guy (presumably with some kind of inferiority complex) juggling an active chainsaw, a hand grenade, and a meat cleaver on the way. The crowd was surprisingly close to him considering his choice of juggling implements...

Towards the Financial District, the art gradually became harder to understand. Outside the head offices of the banks, someone had put funfair rides. This juxtaposition of work and play was enough to constitute art, apparently. The rides were free though, so we tested the Fun Slide and found the description to be fairly accurate.

Another challenging piece, further pushing the boundaries of what can be considered "art", was this:

A pool of 80 proof vodka, in a bank lobby.

For some reason, as is with any substantial body of water (or vodka) in a public place, people were compelled to throw money into it. There were coins EVERYWHERE. People were trying to skim them across the surface, they were throwing handfuls at a time, some threw them so hard that the coins ended up across the other side of the building. I guess it's both good and bad for the artists, though: they make some money out of it but they can't drink it afterwards.

At this point, my camera died, so the photos will end now.

Throughout the rest of the night, we saw Monopoly being played with real money (by C-List celebrities), a presentation on how your hand shape can help you win the lottery, a lot of radio receivers hanging from the ceiling of a lobby (the feedback combined with the aesthetic was the art), and a really interesting interactive music thing. There were areas marked out by neon duct tape, and cameras high above that picked up when people crossed the tape. When the cameras detected someone, it was processed by a laptop, and triggered a sound. All the sounds together didn't sound too great, but the exhibit itself was really interesting. People were trying to figure out how it worked, and dancing around like maniacs in the process.

After a game of chess in a posh hotel lobby at around 4am, and a while spent wandering aimlessly, the crowds began to dissipate. So too did our group, until it was just me and Alex left at around 6am. We went to the famed exhibit whose name I forget (which had been too busy to get to for the rest of the evening), saw inside, felt disappointed, then went our separate ways. I went home to bed.

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